Roughly 3.1 million Americans reside in education deserts, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute.
In other words, they live more than 25 miles from an open-access public college and lack the broadband Internet connection needed for online education. The resulting isolation acts as a barrier to higher education.
“The gap in high school completion between people in a complete desert and those not in a desert is only 6 percentage points,” researchers note. “But the gap in college attendance is 16 percentage points, and the gap in college completion is 18 percentage points.”
A map created by the Urban Institute shows that while people in rural areas and the western part of the country are most likely to be affected, education deserts exist in every state. And some demographic groups are hit especially hard.
“Only 1.3 percent of the US population lives in a complete education desert, but 11.8 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives live in a complete education desert,” the report notes.
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